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Last Updated Wednesday November 25 2020 08:51 AM IST

Understanding the multi-gear system

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Understanding the multi-gear system

There is no such thing called “geared” and “non-geared” for all bicycles have gears. There are single-speed bikes and multi-speed. Bicycles to which most refer as “non-geared” have single-gear systems.

Single-gear bikes are for those who have immense power in their lungs and legs. Others should definitely opt for multi-gear ones.

The multi-gear system offers the rider the choice of the amount of power he/she wants to apply. It makes climbing easy and allows the rider to speed when in flow.

The single-gear system is a default setting. It creates a “take it or leave it” situation. Riders who have low lung and leg power, but still use bikes with this system ride very slow, give up on climbs or injure themselves trying to force the pace. These riders derive little or no pleasure and often ride out of compulsion.

The multi-gear system is like a multiple pulley system used to lift heavy objects. Lifting, in the case of bicycles climbing, becomes easy. A rider can choose a gear depending on the power he/she has and riding becomes a pleasure.

A bicycle, however, is not good or bad because of the multi-gear system. It's good because of its (aerodynamic) frame design and wheel and bottom bracket quality. The multi-gear system is an added advantage.

Most basic multi-gear bikes have a 3x7 system. Three gears at the front and seven at the rear make these 21-speed bikes. Count gears from left to right without bothering about the size of the chain rings. Combine gear number 1 at the front with the first three at the rear and gear number 3 with the last three. Any other combination will create operational difficulty and cause increased friction leading to rapid wear and tear.

Shifters Front gears should be shifted (using the shifters on the handlebar) only after exhausting the rear options.

Gear number 2 at the front can be combined with gears number 2 to 6 at the rear. New riders can keep 2-4/5 as default and go up (to apply power) or down (make things easy) at the rear as the need arises. Front gears should be shifted (using the shifters on the handlebar) only after exhausting the rear options.

Review: Felt QX65 rigid fork hybrid

Felt is not a brand for the uninitiated. These bikes are for those who are already into bicycling. The price will deter others.

The Felt QX65 is priced at Rs 38,000, quite steep for an entry-level 3x7 hybrid. But such is the quality. A component for component comparison, which most new riders do and bike shop owners encourage in the absence of better knowledge, will ensure the QX65 does not hit the road.

A ride will tell the difference. The bike is aggressive and fast. With a stronger gear ratio, it is for those with higher leg and lung power acquired through at least a few years of riding.

Have power and want a bike for a fast city commute, go for the X65. It is as good as a road bike with the upright comfort of a mountain bike.

(The author is a bicyclist by choice who uses the bicycle for everyday commute, distance riding and conducts professional workshops on bicycling and bicycles)

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